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Son of Nor

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We managed to add new stuff to our game build this week. One of the new things makes you feel like you ate magic mushrooms, hehe. So, here's what we managed to do:

  • Implementation of a triplanar shader (I call it the magic mushroom effect - watch the video to see what I mean). It's a projection technique that projects textures from two sides and from the top. No UV mapping is needed for the geometry so we can freely scale and stretch things and it always looks good. I'll try and build some rock formations now for our first chapter using rocks with the triplanar shader applied. If I don't have to puke from looking at it, that is...
  • Sarahul enhancements. The main enemy of the game got a relaxed idle, attack idle and run animation implemented. They also know basic pathfinding and can attack the player, although the attack animation is not yet implemented.
  • Parametric object destruction. This is a pretty cool one and I like playing around with it. Basically this is destructible environment. Rocks can be thrown and they break when hitting a wall. Pieces can be thrown again and break again until the pieces are too small and cannot be picked up anymore. Throwing stones just got much more fun ;)

    There's a dev diary video showing all this.

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    On the negative side, one of our two animators mostly had to leave the team as he got a freelance job and is too busy to continue. We hoped to finally get the main character's animations in. So I'm out in the cold again having to look out for an animator that can take over.

    Ah, and, my coffee machine that broke last week works again, btw. I thought that was important enough to mention. Edited by ChrisPolus

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I just added some pictures of the features. Click on them for bigger versions.

Parametric Object Destruction
parametric.png
Sarahul
sarahul.png
Mushroom Shader™
triplanar-texturing.png

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After last weeks dev diary, where we could not yet show a Sarahul's attack animation, we managed to finish a basic attack animation for this week. What's new...

  • Radir Construction Site: The place where you start off your game, the place where you learn about your magical abilities, is being constructed as we speak. But currently, there's not much to see except a few very rough blockouts.
  • New Spell Effect Visuals: We improved the Windpush and Tornado spell effects to make them look better. They're still being tweaked, but I think we're pretty much there with these 2 effects. Finally new effects to look at.
  • Sarahul Enhancements: As already stated, Sarahul finally got their most basic attack animation.
  • Also in this video: I don't know if you've already seen the Sand Shield. But have a look and see what's the difference between the Sand and the Magic Shield.

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    Happy developing and have a great start into your new week!

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Thanks a lot guys :) We're fighting for every inch currently. It seems many in our team have not well paid jobs and have to take on more work to get their bills paid, which of course takes time away from the project. But you need to live from something. We're always looking for people so if you know 3D artists, concept artists, programmers, let us know or tell them to visit our website :)

@DpakoH: What do you mean by Bulgarian connection? We have a Bulgarian team member in Sofia :)

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Thanks for your support, Mack :) I'm sorry to say we already have a composer for the game. But if you want to submit a song, we could always use tracks for the trailers we release once we have significant milestones reached, like with our GDC trailer. Contact me if you're interested.

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New weekly update: The construction site lives! It's only a short update though.

  • The Radir construction site got an update. Instead of blank walls the Radir is now built. It needs texture updates and decorations.
  • Statue of Nor: We added the statue of Nor to the Radir. Lighting is missing though.
  • And I do what I like doing most. In fact I do this all day long...

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Very nice. I've always theorized about proper player-environment actions, and am glad a game is created where it is being implemented. I also love the idea of our creativity being the limits of our magic abilities and if you're designing it how I think you are, your power will be less focused on levels and more on individual skill ( as in, you can have two basic spells and be better then a person with an arsenal of spells).

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That is the idea ShiftyKake. We have no inventory, no item hunting, no stats, no levels. It's all about the story and the creative combination of powers. :)

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So, for your visual pleasure. A new dev diary is out. About TORNADOS: The winds of change.

  • I think we finally nailed the tornado effect and finalized it after some final tweaks. What do you think? Death animations are missing though and so tornados disappear with a big, unsatisfying *PLOP*.
  • Lots of concepts to model. We modeled praying benches.
  • Also, decorations and wall paintings for the Radir.
  • And the entrance to the Sand Temple.

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    And here's a nice picture with a tornado made to look good (click for big version). Look at the tiny character on the right ;)
    Son_of_Nor_Tornados.png

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The game is looking Awesome!!
Thank you for the diaries as well, I love to watch and hear developers showing the behind the scenes! :)

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Oops, I just see I might have missed posting Dev Diary #12 here? Strange I was sure I did it. Please go here to catch up, sorry.

On to Dev Diary #13! It's tutorial time in the development of Son of Nor. While we're working on completely revamping The Edge once again, Julian took on the task of blocking out the tutorial part of the game. It's everything but pretty but the goal of this exercise is not to look good but to program all the stuff that needs to work in this level in order to gently introduce players to the game mechanics. Maybe we'll distribute this tutorial as an early game demo for some testers to try out! Stay tuned.

  • We've thrown away the old Edge because we completely screwed up our scales. The character was extremely tiny and everything was so huge. We'll have a conference call on Monday where we need to define a new workflow to get scales right once and for all so everybody knows how big things should be. Standards are so effin' important. Why haven't we seen this coming?
  • Julian created a functional blockout of Son of Nor's tutorial. Functional means that stuff works and game mechanics are programmed. The layout of the map can and should be changed to make the tutorial more interesting. So the next step would be handing off this tutorial to our level designer who adds more interesting paths, lengthens or shortens sections, and then distributes assets to our env artists.
  • We're happy to announce we have a new team member (still in his trial period), who might take over level design and lead environment artist. That would be really cool. We wish him all the best! He's got some great experience from past game projects and already made several suggestions to our workflow.
  • This diary also features the best MANUAL CAMERA SHAKES ever seen in a video game!


    VOTE FOR US! It's IndieDB Game of the Year 2012 time. If you like our project, please go here and click to vote for Son or Nor! Thanks so much :)

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    [/media] Edited by ChrisPolus

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I somehow double posted and couldn't delete this post anymore, sorry. Edited by ChrisPolus

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We literally have nothing to show from WITHIN the game as we were busy discussing fundamental game mechanics this week. I don't know if this is good or bad, discussing fundamental things after such a long time of development. But our game controls are not that common so we lack references and can only test if something works when we implement and really test it. And after some testing it dawned on us that our current magic system controls are complicated even in its current form and doesn't integrate well into the world and lore as a whole.

And that's what happened this week. We set out - again - discussing the problem of the magic system and looking for a solution. We recorded some of the discussions in this week's dev diary.

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Hey, hooray, Son of Nor made it to the TOP 100 "Indie of the Year 2012" projects on IndieDB.
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Please support us, go here and vote for Son of Nor smile.png It's much appreciated smile.png

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OK, we're back with some actual in-game footage!

  • Julian's been busy creating a blockout of a new area. The "Sand Temple" is located below The Edge.
  • We have 2 puzzles working down there that slowly introduce you to the concept of telekinesis and how the world works.
  • We have a new team member and he's a work horse! He creates awesome concepts and constantly asks for more work. I don't know where to take it from since we have to discuss things carefully before giving it for concepting and building. Ha ha. Luxury problems.
  • The scarab bug concepts are from our new artist, the statue concept is from our long-time member Olivia.
  • Don't miss out on Julian's cyclops.

    Also, we're still running for Indie of the Year 2012 here on IndieDB! Vote for us! Thanks smile.png

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A lot to talk about this week. First of all a HUGE thank you to everybody that voted for us on IndieDB! We made it into the top upcoming games of 2012 in the category role playing! That's so great!

 

Also:

- We changed controls in the game to make combat more fluent. Instead of picking up items with telekinesis one after another players can now lift a number of items in reach at once to shoot using telekinesis. Players can't move while lifting multiple items, so this convenience comes at a cost. We'll see if this works out over time.

- A Sarahul having a bow and shooting arrows is still in the works. But we implemented the AI for arrow shooting enemies.

- Dynamic terrains and enemies are a challenge. But now enemies take terraforming into account. When players terraform in front of them, enemies will run up the hill or run around to get a clear shot at players again.

- Pathfinding now also takes terraforming into account.

- The Edge has a new, smaller town area. It helps keeping our assets under control and not have to make huge structures. It's still in rough blockout stage though.

- At the end, there's an alien space ship. Or a giant blinking christmas tree. Depending on what you believe in. Merry Christmas everybody!

 

Thank you all for a fantastic year. All the best for your projects, games and ideas and see you all in 2013.

 

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Edited by ChrisPolus

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Happy New Year everybody!

Probably the biggest news in 2013 is that we started to pay our first members! This means we left the path of a hobby project and show especially our members that we're serious about this project! We won a governmental boost in Austria for our project and the business plan and we started to send that money to our artists. From now on, 2 people get paid for working at stillalive studios, and 1.5 will be added to the payroll next month. That's great as well as terrifying...

What happened in game development:
  • Our main character gets a new rig and we hope to finally implement the new main character model into the game. We know the current one with its animations looks awful!
  • Daniel, one of our concept and 3D artists modeled a bug he concepted a few weeks back (see our image library for these concepts).
  • Julian implemented the bugs and added crowd behaviour. Bugs don't yet have any animation though, they just slide on the ground, but it's barely visible.
  • We're working on a closed alpha where we will send an early demo to a very small amount of people to get early feedback on the controls.
Thank you members and fans for a fantastic year last year. We're all looking forward to what'll happen in 2013.

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This week we're visiting a topic we haven't visited in a while. Sound. Sound is incredibly important for a great atmosphere. Even a slight wind breeze adds a feeling of space and location. So let's see what I've been able to implement in the past week. Also, we reached a milestone with our character. It's implemented and it works with Mecanim, Unity 4's new animation system. Even though the standard animations that come with Mecanim are not suited for our needs but, see for yourself...

  • Improved visuals and added new rocks to the tutorial area.
  • Developed sounds for a falling drawbridge, wooden objects collide with other objects, counterweight chain mechanism, arrow trap training mechanism, arrow flyby, walk into plant rustles. More sounds were created but are not properly implemented in the game yet.
  • For certain sounds to start playing we implemented a special collider that triggers sound events as soon as a collision with a specific other object is detected.
  • Rigged and skinned the main character and connected it to the Mecanim animation system.
  • Imported the main character into the game. Colors and textures are missing and a part of the clothes, too, though.
  • Implemented help system for the tutorial.

The first week has now passed in which several of our members work full-time on this project. Predictably this led to certain tensions regarding roles and competencies. This is such an important aspect of any team that this cannot be overemphasized. Pro tip: It's mega-important to talk about tensions as soon as possible, before they get insurmountable. And about role definitions and competencies.

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Edited by ChrisPolus

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We made a huge jump in the past couple of weeks. Several artists finished their work and we could put in many things at the same time. You've seen the new visuals and rocks we have in our tutorial level. We've got more of that this week. But we also thought it would be super fun to develop a story around this week's dev diary. So we dove into the game's lore and came up with a narrator that utters a promise towards the Sarahul. And we illustrated that promise he makes with our new visuals and places we have in the game. We all worked very hard to get to this state and we're very happy how it turned out.

 
Of course this is still pre-alpha work. Everything you see is heavily being worked on. We still have issues with the character, dynamic cloth, hairs, animations, there are lots of other construction sites as well. But we felt like celebrating what we achieved so far. Especially if you take a look
">where we came from just a few months ago!
  • Nearly completed the tutorial level and help subtitles.
  • Completed the cave section and added light shafts to holes in the ceiling.
  • Added new lighting to the tutorial level with a sunlight and 3 fill lights to create atmosphere and mood.
  • Added sounds to a door with a timing mechanism to learn one of the game's controls.
  • Added sounds to a pack of scarab bugs.
  • Implemented the real model for the drawbridge and the timing mechanism button door.
  • Implemented a rock nerved with crystal chunks that will have a special gameplay role in the game.
  • Added the main character with hair, re-targeted run forward animation, and dynamic cloth.
  • Added camera shake controller that shakes the camera on gameplay evens such as the drawbridge fall down (I don't need to simulate this manually with the mouse anymore ;)
  • Many more little additions, fixes, and programming features.
  • We continued work on an AWESOME dynamic wind system that makes grass and other things shake realistically in the wind.
We're going to wrap up the tutorial and give it out to a closed group of testers to get their feedback on the controls and the tutorial level in the next 2-3 weeks. And now enjoy this dev diary special edition smile.png
 
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Edited by ChrisPolus

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This week we show you clips about what lighting can do to your scenes, what's up with magic crystals (which will play a role in the game) and a preview of the updated magic system. Apparently you also get a glimpse of me doing some stupid looking moves in my studio to show animators how I think the character should move. For this, I'll seriously consider hitting Julian next time I'm in Innsbruck. *Sigh, why do I have to release the dev diaries and humiliate myself? Srly.

  • See the difference in lighting from before and after.
  • We have 1 sunlight and 2 fill lights, one from the directly opposite direction of sunlight.
  • To specifically touch up areas we use spherical lights where needed.
  • We integrated magic crystals that'll play a role in puzzle solving and fights.
  • Updated magic system to improve usability in fights.

Thanks for not telling anybody how stupid I look...

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Edited by ChrisPolus

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